Sign up to our newsletter to get the best of Sifted in your inbox 3x a week
The Irish startup ecosystem is booming. But what are the startups you need to follow in 2020?
Here, Sifted’s reporters — in partnership with Dealroom.co — dig into the data, strategy and challenges behind the most important European startups.
We have picked companies based on the money they have raised, how quickly they are hiring and how formative they have been to the startup ecosystems around them. If there is anyone missing from this list, or anything is wrong in the numbers, please let us know by email at [email protected]
Please check out our jobs board to see some of the companies hiring from this list, as well as our lists from other European countries.
Overview Business messaging platform that drives growth at every stage of the customer lifecycle
Sifted Take Intercom is the big success story of the Irish startup ecosystem. Founded in 2011, the developer of communication tools for businesses is the country’s only “unicorn” worth more than $1bn. It has raised a hefty $241m with high-profile backers such as Index Ventures , Bessemer Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg
Based mainly in Dublin and San Francisco, the company has managed to prove wrong those critics who said back in 2018 that the chatbot was dead. Eoghan Mccabe, the chief executive, has long argued that when combined with the right kind of AI software, a chatbot on a webpage can build customer loyalty and help business. It says that customers using Intercom see conversion rates and sales increase by 82%.
The company now has 30k paying customers and many of the have been able to automate responses to the most common customer questions and cut response times down on others.
More broadly than chatbots, Intercom sells itself as a streamlined way to get to know and interact with customers. Intercom monitors customer behaviour and allows its customer to slice and dice data to target specific groups of customers with marketing emails and messages, tech support and more. In this way, Intercom competes with Zendesk, Salesforce.com and MailChimp.
Overview Agricultural technology designed for the management and care of bees
Sifted Take ApisProtect may not be the biggest Irish startups, but it’s in an exciting field (much beloved by Sifted) of bee-tech.
Founded in 2017, ApisProtect develops internet-connected beehive sensors and has raised more money than any bee-tech business in the world.
It’s hive sensors monitor temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, sound and movement; data which can be analysed by machine learning to provide alerts for issues like disease, pests or unusual behaviour.
“Our machine learning turns data into useful information,” Fiona Murphy told Sifted last year. “We can show beekeepers which colonies are alive or dead, which are performing well or not, so they can decide if they need to feed them, apply insecticide or slap some extra insulation on the hives.”
ApisProtect has been training its AI with 20 beekeeper partners, 200 sensor units and 10m honey bees monitored across the US, Ireland, the UK and South Africa. “We don’t want to train an algorithm on Irish beehives and expect that to land in California and work,” says Murphy.
The startup has some rivals in the form of BeeHero (Israel), Pollenity (Bulgaria) and Arnia (Italy) and so this is a hot field which ApisProtect hopes to dominate.
Overview Manna is a Drone Delivery Service ¨in a box¨ for online delivery platforms, dark kitchens, restaurant chains and forecourts
Sifted Take The idea for drone delivery startup Manna Aero came to Bobby Healy one night when he was sitting in his garden with a hankering for chips.
Chips, he says, are one of the items that don’t work well for conventional food deliveries as they tend to lose their crispness during transport — after half an hour on the back of a delivery bike they have gone limp and soggy.
Healy, a prominent figure in the Irish tech scene and the former CarTrawler chief technology officer, wondered if drones could be a way of speeding things up.
Today Manna is offering restaurants and dark kitchens drone delivery as a service, promising them a three-minute delivery within a two-mile radius, for less than the cost of road-based deliveries.
Manna will operate the drone fleet and take fees of around €3 to €4 per delivery. Road-based delivery companies like Deliveroo are understood to charge restaurants around 25% to 30% of the value of each order. Manna drones go at speeds of 80km/h.
It is planning to begin testing the drone deliveries in April, beginning with one location before expanding to further locations later in 2020.
Manna is not alone. Aviation authorities around the world are starting to allow trials of drone deliveries and other companies, including Amazon, are making a play for the market. Wing, the drone delivery service owned by Alphabet, for example, has started offering commercial services in Virginia, Canberra and Helsinki.
Manna recently raised $3m, bringing its total to date to $5.2m in seed funding.
Overview Roomex is a Global Hotel Booking Platform for Business Travel. Uniquely, we combine being a corporate travel management company (TMC) and an online travel agent (OTA). We have offices in Dublin, Ireland and in London, UK
Overview Designs, develops, and supplies semiconductor solutions
NB The Dealroom data about employee growth is mainly from LinkedIn, and so is not perfect (people may not always update their profiles when they move jobs, for instance). But it gives some idea about the rate of change from 2018 to 2019. We have classed 0%-20% growth as “staying level”, 20%-100% growth as “growth” and 100% plus growth as “hyper-growth”.Logos provided by Clearbit
Get the best European startup stories and news
From Sifted and others. Delivered 3 times per week.